Veterans

September 14, 2012

‘Black Knight’ captain helps Vietnam widow claim missing award

Tags:
Sgt. Quentin Johnson
Augusta, Ga.

Shelby Harding and Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, hold a display case with Harding’s late-husband’s, Steve Harding, award during an award-memorial ceremony for Steve in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Hatzinger presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

For 44 years, Shelby Harding has held onto a case with her late-husband’s Army and foreign medals, but not all the spaces are filed. There a blank space where a missing award should be.

During that time Shelby had always felt her late-husband, Steve Harding, should have received the Army’s Combat Infantrymen Badge for his actions during the Vietnam War.

“I always knew in my heart that Steve was deserving of the award but I never received the orders for it,” added Shelby.

Steve died April 26, 1968, in the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. Shelby received his awards and decorations during two separate ceremonies in 1968 and 1969 and at the time inquired to the whereabouts of the missing medal.

Shelby Harding of Augusta, Ga., holds a photograph of her late-husband, Steve Harding at an award-memorial ceremony for Steve in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

“During the presentation of the awards in 1969, I asked about the CIB and the response I received was ‘What, you want more lady?'” added Shelby.

It wasn’t until 2011 that someone offered to help Shelby. Her niece’s husband searched months to find information on Steve’s CIB but to no avail.

The following year Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander of Company D., 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, made contact with Shelby after learning about Steve while sponsoring a reunion for Company D in Branson, Mo., April 2012.

“I sent Shelby a letter to simply introduce myself and let her know she is part of the Company D. family,” added Hatzinger. “At the time, I had no idea Shelby had been looking for her husband’s missing award.”

A month later, Shelby asked Hatzinger for help.

“I was pleased to help her but had no idea where to start,” he added. “I turned to a colleague in administration and she pointed me to two different military records agencies.”

For more than a month, Hatzinger worked with the U.S. Army Human Resources Command and the National Personnel Records Center – Military Records finding information on Steve and his assignments in Vietnam.

“After about a month of research, I received a call from an HRC employee who’d been working on Steve’s records,” said Hatzinger. “He conveyed to me that once a file on Steve was found he opened it up to find CIB orders dated 1968.”

Hatzinger said he was excited and relieved to receive the information, despite no explanation why orders existed without the award ever being presented.

“I was fortunate for the help I received from personnel at HRC and the NPRC,” added Hatzinger. “At the same time, I was excited and relieved that we could help Shelby and allow her some closure.”

Friends and family members of Shelby Harding dine at a local Augusta, Ga. restaurant after an award-memorial ceremony for Shelby’s late-husband, Steve, in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1. Capt. Kyle Hatzinger, commander for Company D, 1st Battalion, 5th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, presented the Combat Infantryman’s Badge to Shelby on behalf of Steve. Shelby waited 44 years to receive this award.

“I was pleased and excited that after all these years. I was able to receive Steve’s award, one I knew he deserved for service to the country,” said Shelby. “I needed that closure.”

Hatzinger said once the award was collected, he wanted to ensure Shelby received it in a customary fashion.

“I know she would have been happy receiving the award with a handshake and kind words, but I wanted to make sure it was presented in a meaningful and traditional way,” added Hatzinger.

Hatzinger arranged to have a grave-side, award ceremony in Augusta, Ga., Sept. 1, which he and his wife attended along with four veterans who served with Steve, some of their spouses and 10 of Shelby’s family members.

The hour-long ceremony included the CIB presentation, a speech from three of Steve’s brothers-in-arms, a final roll call and a commemorative plaque given by Ralph Dahl from Cailfornia – one of Steve’s former platoon members, said Hatzinger. Additionally, Dahl’s wife presented Shelby with a hand-made guidon, a Company D. Flag.

“It was a somber but wonderful time, not a dry eye in the crowd,” Shelby said of the ceremony. She was inspired by the speeches, and amazed that Hatzinger and men who fought by her husband’s side would travel from around the U.S. to pay their last respects to Steve.

“There was a lot of sadness during the reading of the eulogies but Shelby cherishes her memories and deserved time to reflect on her husbands achievements … I was impressed by her strength,” said Hatzinger.

With the CIB properly resting in Shelby’s case she commented, “We have done what needs to be done. I will always have my memories and at 75-years-old, my life is complete.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by JD Leipold

New webpage allows vets with PTSD to apply for discharge upgrade

Army photograph by JD Leipold The Army has created a new webpage on http://arba.army.pentagon.mil where veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder who were discharged under “other than honorable” conditions can ap...
 
 
Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds

Many living with PTSD

Photograph by Linda KC Reynolds Helping paws – Vietnam veteran and Purple Heart recipient Phillip Waln, member of VFW Post 3000 visits with Michele and her therapy pet, Morgan, during a PTSD awareness workshop. With an es...
 
 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Christopher Gross

Airmen, families, friends remember loved ones at Arlington

Air Force photograph by SSgt. Christopher Gross Lt. Col. David Burnett lays a wreath on a tombstone during the 23rd Annual National Wreaths Across America Day Dec. 13, 2014, at Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia. Burnett, as...
 

 
DOD photograph by Sebastian Sciotti Jr.

Thousands gather to honor fallen veterans for Wreaths Across America Day

DOD photograph by Sebastian Sciotti Jr. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addresses service members and volunteers during the opening ceremony on Wreat...
 
 
Army photograph by J.D. Leipold

Arlington National Cemetery continues improvements, director testifies

Army photograph by J.D. Leipold Aerial view of a small section of Arlington National Cemetery’s 624 acres, located in Arlington, Va. In testimony on Capitol Hill, the executive director of Army National Cemeteries said as...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

America’s entry into World War II remembered 73 years later

Courtesy photograph President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Declaration of War against Japan on Dec. 8, 1941, a day after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. On Dec. 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan carried out a surprise attack...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>